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BOO! Haunted House.

  • Darken
  • 06/29/2009 10:19 AM
  • 5509 views
Yes I believe I have described the entire setting of this game by title alone. I decided to review this game to see how far horror games have gone in the RPG Maker world. My experience with them has not been so bright. Generally since horror games are considered adventure games made in RM*. It is not a stretch to make one with RPG Maker than say, making an action game. However once you see MS paint spray can blood with RTP characters lying everywhere, you start to wonder if horror games work at all. So will this game prevail? Let us go into The Beyond.

And so we begin

I have to say I was impressed on how little there was an intro, but what I was not impressed was how poor the back story was. You go into a haunted house. That’s it, sure you can find further information by looking at books and notes, but there’s no character depth, no motivations present at all. The worst thing about the story is the setting. When you’re making a horror game in RM form, it’s best to try and be, I don’t know, ORIGINAL? Haunted houses, man, that not even a cliché, it’s like that horror movie maker game I used to play, and haunted house would be the default template. Sure a game won’t be bad automatically if it’s set in a haunted house, but I really won’t expect much. There is really not much to say beyond that, or should I say, The Beyond that?

Puzzles!



Uh, all jokes aside. The game basically takes the form of an adventure game, where you pick up items, and use them whenever needed. Though unlike most adventure games, it is a top down view like a lot RPG Maker games, there is no point and click interface. Items and stable objects are highlighted by a shiny star. The game play as follows:

-Enter room
-Grab all shiny items
-Interact shiny stable objects, if said object has a puzzle, solve with previous items

It is very repetitive. Also when you use an item on something, like say a key to open a door, that key stays in your inventory even though it will never be used again. Most adventure games tend to remove useless items to keep the inventory clean. Whenever you meet a puzzle (usually a mathematic one) the item to solving it is usually right next to it. There really is no thought to it. the puzzles themselves aren’t even that hard, they are just simple math problems. Hey, I’ll play Math Blaster any day of the week (well, back when I was young anyway) but I really don’t think math really fits in a horror game at all. Make some use of the environment, items that interact with each other in different combinations, items to move around, think of something besides math puzzles!

One of the biggest problems with the exploration is that all the rooms look the same. There’s no clear indication of exactly where you are. The wallpaper could have been changed a couple of times, and maybe some exclusive land marks could be added, hell maybe add the room/hallway’s name when you first walk into for a brief moment. I find myself very lost most of the time and that is a bad thing. The VX RTP doesn't really allow for any surreal imagery, like fucked up paintings or something

The Battle System, er, the Decision Proximity Semi Active Battle System

The new and revolutionary Decision Proximity Semi Active Battle System is a very interesting system indeed. The Decision Proximity Semi Active Battle System is so amazing and godlike in its craft that it blows everything away. What does the Decision Proximity Semi Active Battle System do? Well I will tell you what the Decision Proximity Semi Active Battle System does in fine detail, almost as if it was made by the creator of the fine Decision Proximity Semi Active Battle System, himself!

Event based battles. Yes I have just described it in fewer words than its actual name. Seriously, me and my friend tend to joke about how people tack things like Custom and System everywhere like CBS, UCSBS, MCSBS, ASS, but really dude? DPSAB? Is that some kind of joke? Please god it better be a joke. Anyway the battles in this game are pretty lame. You engage the enemy which are represented by events that you walk up to, the game pauses and allows you to either attack, defend or attack harder. Attacking harder takes up some of your Strength (which is used for breaking down doors, though I have to wonder what’s the point of that when you can just walk back to a heal point to recover it) so basically the idea is that you spam that the most until the enemy.

The huge problem with this is that it looks so out of place. Sure it works, but it doesn’t really draw me in as a horror game. The monster designs aren’t even interesting, teddy bear, bats, uh purple scorpion woman (I did not make that up, I laughed so hard when this happened). All around you could have just made some fear system where you had to run away from a monster once in awhile (though it’d still look retarded since everything is tile based).

Does it scare me?

Okay so the game-play and the story don’t hold up too well. But the big question is, does it scare me? No. It doesn’t. I’ll tell you why as best I can. Making a random charaset appear out of nowhere along with a Darkness5 sound effect several times isn’t going to frighten me, at all. I am not trying to be a hardcore horror movie person, in fact I can be quite a wimp when it comes to horror games. I really think this game could scare me if I was in a world where everyone was a chibi XP sprite, but it doesn’t work that way. Let me tell what this game is missing completely, immersion.

What is immersion? Well I think it’s the very key to making a good horror game on its own. Immersion is when the game takes a hold of you and you start to believe what happens in the game, is really happening. The kind of feeling you get when you don’t want to die, and that you truly are consumed by the game. Horror games deeply rely on this aspect. And this game totally lacks any of that. First let me start by saying that top down RPG Maker perspective will never work, you can see exactly behind you therefore lacking any feeling of “keeping your back to the wall” I remember playing Dead Space, when I realized that there was the possibility of a mutant thing coming up from behind via vents, I kept turning around, keeping my back at the wall, I felt vulnerable, I was SCARED. Immersion can save a bad game, too bad it’s not here for The Beyond.

What I’m suggesting however, is not to make a 3D game. Yeah, 3D is a good way to make a horror game as it allows you to add elements such as BEHIND YOU and actual lighting effects. There are some good scary 2D games (though very few). One of them being Clock Tower, it is a point and click game in a side-view fashion. It is also set in a mansion, however what makes it so good is that the graphics give a very mature and scary look. You will not find that in The Beyond where the main character is a chibi XP sprite, the room being all cute and shiny.



Graphics alone can produce some atmosphere. I think the best part about Clocktower is that it’s so weird in terms of tone. There is no cheesy SPOOKY BGM running in the background as you walk, all you hear is your footsteps, when you enter a bathroom you just hear pin drops from the tap water, when you enter a storage room, the wood creaks as you take a step. Music really only happens when crazy action happens. The most interesting part about Clock Tower is that since it is point and click, the objects are more interactive, there are many surprises when you try interacting with say, a mirror. I won’t spoil too much about CT, or even shift this review all about it. But I think if DG wants to take notes from a game, he should take it from CT.

Funny thing is The Beyond takes its inspiration from 3D games which, is a huge problem. So go play Clock Tower, and never bother making an RM Horror game again. Hohohoho!

Posts

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I'm deducing from this review that you don't like survival-horror games in the first place...
LouisCyphre
can't make a bad game if you don't finish any games
4523
I'm deducing from both reviews that you two have opposite views on what makes a horror game good. What's wrong with that?
Um Clock Tower, Silent Hill, and Dead Space are one my favorite games.
-Enter room
-Grab all shiny items
-Interact shiny stable objects, if said object has a puzzle, solve with previous items


This is the exploration/puzzle-side of Silent Hill and Resident Evil in three sentences: if you liked those games why would this style of puzzle-solving bother you..?
Just because I like Silent Hill doesn't mean I like it's puzzles.
You don't like puzzles but you like survival-horror games..? That's... different.
You never did well in debate club, did you, F-G?
To be honest, that Darken doesn't like the puzzles in Silent Hill and doesn't like the puzzles in this game only shows that this game has managed to achieve what it was going for: I don't see how that should count against the game.
What was it going for? A game without immersion, crazy monster designs, good backstory, just like in the Silent Hill games? If I were to review Silent Hill, I would criticize the puzzle design too. I don't know why you are so willing to defend this game. Maybe my math blaster joke was too damn good (everyone loves math blaster).
plz note that I am implying silent hill does have immersion, crazy monster designs, and good backstory.
Fair enough. There will always be differing opinions. So far, reception of this game has been good, and you're the first negative review in more than five I've recieved. I do welcome negative reviews of course, but I must say, you mustn't have ever played the original Alone In The Dark. Funnily enough, that was what I was trying to emulate, not Silent Hill.

I wanted to try my hand at making a game set in a haunted house, I tried it, and of course it's not my best work and not everyone's going to like it, but what I do prefer is a nice well written review rather than something that is just a string of insults and jokes linked together.

Thanks for playing.
As for F-G "defending" the game, I'd say he has a right to. If you like a game, you generally try to defend it against people that don't like it. If somebody told me that Silent Hill 2 was a horrible game, I would probably try to set them straight.
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
Was the joke in "Math Blaster" the lack of an 's'?
Well, obviously, there was no attempt at trying to be like Silent Hill, no was anyone comparing this game to Silent Hill in any way of than scariness. Silent Hill 2, by the way, does suck. Anyone actually remember when that first came out? Y'know, BEFORE everyone starting pointing out how "psychological" is was after reading a plot analysis and going on about how it was so great despite the lack of diversity in weapons and monsters, the now-cliched industrial environments, and a combat engine where James didn't act like a retard when he used a melee weapon? Yeah, people didn't particularly like it all that much back then (one magazine gave it a 6 out of 10 and were confused by the story), and we were all hooting and hollering when we first saw the trailer for Silent Hill 3.

In One Night 2's (Or should I say "Two Night"? HUR!) defense, though, RPG Maker is actually capable of making damned scary games. The Longing Ribbon, Backstage, Heisen Hill, Taut. If you want to see just how good a game can make in RPG Maker 2000, look at Taut. It's right up there with the original Clock Tower in both how good looking and how scary a 16-bit game can be.

-Tabris
Now I'm all for differing opinions and I certainly have my own problems with the game's story, or at least the way it's told, but saying that it's just "a haunted house," as though it were the player just walking into a bunch of generic bedsheet ghosts or something, is objectively false. Yes it takes place in an old, decrepit manor, so what. Really, I'd like to know what
interdimensional shadow beings using us to hide within the earth for aeons until they are ready and able to take over the planet for the sake of fighting some cosmic war far beyond our reaches
has to do with a "BOO! Haunted house!" kind of story. Mentioning that he didn't bother to look at notes or any kind of backstory pretty much says it all. And an
underground scientific complex
that would set the stage for the first game, yep, conventional "BOO! Haunted house!" stuff right there.

(And yeah, I can very well see this is a five-year-old review. Doesn't matter, it's still sitting here, still able to be commented on, still up for scrutiny)
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